If you work in an office in Victoria you might have gone back to work towards the end of last year and then stopped wearing a mask shortly afterwards. As Victoria entered another snap lockdown, I found my mask crumpled in the back of a drawer, unworn for weeks. Yet our healthcare workers have rarely left ‘the office’, some working unusually long hours since this time last year. And their masks haven’t come off either.
It’s no secret that healthcare workers face higher risks of anxiety, mental health issues and burn out than most other industries in this crisis:
- During the first half of 2020, a government study showed that healthcare workers had almost three times the risk of contracting the virus than other citizens.
- In a survey of 10,000 healthcare workers, over 50% reported feeling burnt out
- One study showed that 30% of nurses were experiencing symptoms of mild to severe anxiety due to the strain of COVID19.
Image: Xacom 2021
One doctor and his team in Melbourne’s Western Suburbs was tasked with treating elderly COVID19 infected patients:
“We worked 10 – 20 hours of overtime each week” he said, “the hospital was also at the point of having almost all new admissions – all suspected COVID – and not much capacity to look after patients presenting with anything else.”
He reflected on the stress he felt when sending his junior doctors into contact with infected patients and worse still was the fact that they were all working so hard but knew there was little they could do. Many of those patients passed away.
At Xacom our claim is that ‘we care as much as you do’ and we’re setting ourselves an extremely high bar. How can you care as much as a health care worker during a pandemic? But this is the bar we’re reaching for. We’re aware that our clients are pretty much saving the world right now and our support needs to be like breathing – so complete and automated that it can be taken for granted.
"...our support needs to be
so complete and automated
that it can be taken for granted"
Recently at the Xacom office we held a fundraiser called PPE day. We wore PPE – well, dress up PPE including disposable rain coats and shower caps – to experience a little of what it’s like working in it all day, everyday. Of course our little taster was nothing like actually working in a COVID19 ward, but it gave us a prompt to reflect on how our healthcare workers might be feeling as they work double shifts, struggle to sleep from stress and sit with patients whose loved ones couldn’t be with them as they passed. Of course most health care workers I know don’t complain much and just get on with the job, but we don’t want to take that for granted.
Image: Xacom’s PPE Day Fundraiser – Xacom 2021
This isn’t the only way Xacom has been trying to walk in our clients’ shoes – or ‘working in our clients’ disposable gloves’ if you like. Xacom’s executive chairman, Matt Kirwan-Hamilton expresses it like this: “The first step has always got to be understanding the client’s needs and challenges. That’s when we can work together to develop the solution they really need, rather than give a product we already have.” An example is Xacom’s recent work with a major Melbourne hospital, developing a Smartphone Messaging Solution, to address the unnecessary complexity faced by healthcare workers when communicating with multiple different devices.
"The first step has always got to be understanding the client's needs and challenges. That's when we can work together to develop the solution they really need..."
In a time where the Australian healthcare industry faces some of its greatest challenges, providers need to show understanding, care and know what it’s like to walk in the shoes of nurses and doctors – or more literally, know what it’s like to wear their masks.
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